Senior Snippets - Downsizing a Home:Tips for CAREGivers

Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of our community in mind, brought to you by Bryn Evans of Home Instead in Sheffield.

In this instalment, I will be providing you with some useful tips to help organize a move for an elderly relative. Moving is a high-stress life event. Whether it's cross-town or cross-country, undertaking the organizing, packing, discarding, cleaning, paperwork and the countless other tasks is a major challenge and can feel overwhelming—even paralyzing.

Plan Ahead: If you have time before the move, and if your elderly relative is willing, think about beginning to declutter before a move is on the near horizon. Shred, toss or give away obvious items such as unnecessary paperwork, old clothes and extraneous household items that just take up space.

Make Lists: Keep a notebook just for the move and whenever you think of something—anything at all related to the move—write it down. Include to-do lists, a calendar/timeline, things you're likely to forget and questions about the new residence.

Complete Paperwork: Inform the address changeat the post office as well credit cards, bank accounts, investment/retirement accounts, family & friends, driver's license/car registration, newspaper/magazine subscriptions, social clubs & places of worship.

Sort: Plan to go through one room at a time. Start with the easiest. Don't try to pack, just sort into categories and use a colour coded method to keep track: 1) Definitely save (these are the most useful, most beloved, most meaningful items). 2) Possibly save (you'll need to revisit these later, and continue paring down). 3) Donate or sell.  4) Discard.

Pack:  With everything labelled, it will be easier to pack up the house. Label all boxes with the destination area of the new residence (ie: bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, etc). It will also be helpful to label ‘open first’ boxes with important items such as bedding, bathroom essentials, and basic kitchen items. Make sure pack valuables separately and keep these with you during the move.

Once your relative moves, make sure to check in with them frequently at the beginning. Adjusting to the new surroundings may take days, weeks or even months. Many people feel relief while others may be withdrawn and hesitant about starting in a new place. Many grieve the loss of their old community and friends. And sometimes, the reaction is: "I should have done this years ago!"

I’d love to hear from you! To make a suggestion for a future topic, please write to me at [email protected] or by post to Home Instead, Haywood House, Hydra Business Park, Nether Lane, Ecclesfield, Sheffield. Alternatively, you can also call me on 0114 466 9055.

Bryn Evans.